cover image Open Letters: Selected Writings

Open Letters: Selected Writings

Vaclav Havel. Alfred A. Knopf, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40027-1

In a prescient 1987 essay, Czech playwright Havel, now his country's president, mocks those who look to ``Glasnost Czar'' Gorbachev as a liberator. Many of the pieces in this stirring collection of political essays, letters, speeches, autobiographical sketches, interviews and musings prefigure the upsurge of suppressed longings for freedom that toppled Czechoslovokia's totalitarian regime. A recurring theme is that fundamental change, whether in the East or the West, must begin with the individual conscience, with people resisting bureaucracy, ideologies and sloganeering. More than a third of the 25 selections appear here in English for the first time. The book closes with Havel's ringing 1990 New Year's address envisioning a democratic, prosperous republic that has overcome an obsolete economy, bankrupt school system and polluted environment. (June)